. . . PWNED

. . . PWNED
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You are and always will be someone else's property.  Unless you are completely alone in the world, that is the inevitable condition for every human.

 

A brain is a tremendously valuable resource for anyone who can own/control one . . . or more than one.  Just as it is valuable for you, it is equally valuable as a resource to someone else.

 

Imagine you find yourself alone in 7th century Europe.  Sure, you can hunt, gather, and live off the land until one day a tribal leader finds you.  He will not just pass you and say, “good day!”.  He will put you in arms and march you directly to his territory as forced labor.  You are too valuable a resource to be allowed to roam freely in his jurisdiction.  If he elects not to take you, you are a 1:1 possible threat.  If he takes you captive, his strength has consequently increased by two people while killing you, his strength only increases by one.  

 

Ok.  But say you resist.  You fight back and expressly defend your personal right to live without authority.  Let’s say you succeed.  Do you think you can continue to defend yourself against two or three more attackers.  No.  Eventually you will succumb to the Law of Strength.

 

For the very situation I just described, tribes and communities formed just so they would not be taken captive as a resource by barbarian invaders.  These tribes banded together both in community and arms.  If you wanted to be a part of any given tribe, you gave up your personal freedoms to the tribe for its own well being and strength.  That was an equitable trade as you now have many more people to fight for your personal protection.  As well, you gained community advantages such as food and shelter and maybe, if you're lucky, your own spot of land to farm.  For all people living in that period, that was a no-brainer.  Go with the tribe!

 

As it were in the medieval period, the smaller tribes eventually were taken up by the larger tribes either by force, armistice, or pact.  This proceeded until major portions of Europe were under the rule of large empires.  

As they say, the rest is history.  The governments to whom we find ourselves giving allegiance are a direct result of the basic rule of property acquisition and the Law of Strength.  

You are property.  Whether you can defend your personal property yourself is directly related to you being able to retain it.  For any rational person, they understand the Law of Strength where numbers is a major deciding factor.

 

The new position taken by many people today is a position of inquisition.  Why do I need a government?  Why is the default state for me to be ruled by a larger body or government?  I am free to chose, so why can't I choose no government.  I don't like taxes.  I don't like having to give a large portion of my earnings to someone I will never meet.  I don't like living with the possibility of an army marching over my house.  I fear the power of this massive government because it may abuse me.
 These are rational questions.  They are rational because all individuals alive today have never experienced a life without allegiance to a community, an empire, or a nation.  Without that experience, questioning is healthy.  It would be like you waking up in the middle of NY, lying face down on 5th avenue.  You would have good reason to question your status.

 

The danger in questioning is the motive from which they question.  Is it a motive to understand their plight, or do they wish to control their own private property (themselves) regardless of consequences?  The latter, I would say is the very same motive that every tribal lord used in their rational.  Because once you want to own yourself, completely, and without regard to community, you need numbers to protect it.  And therefore, you inevitably become Genghis Khan and will play out the Law of Strength, not as one who is ruled, but as the ruler.

 

The anti-statists are correct.  You don't own yourself under any type or form of government.  You don't really have personal property either.  And whoever is in power can abuse that power against you no matter what document has been signed by hands who may also shake on the deal either honestly or in collusion.

But as I see it, you don't have a choice.  That “freedom” to chose to whom (or what) you give your allegiance was a decision made back in the medieval ages by generations living alone in squalor and fear.  To wish for individual liberty is an exercise in fantasy . . . or . . .  to squalor and fear we will return.

(pwned is slang for owned) 

Comments

Detlev Conrad Mielczarek Added Aug 6, 2013 - 8:39am
A very good article - thank you for writing what was floating at the back of my mind as well.
Societies formed for a reason - the "law of strength" as you call it - and they have existed ever since, even when change was attempted, the old order restored itself. (Look at the French Revolution - deposed a king, descended into terror to return to effectively a new monarchy.)

Having said that, in a democracy we can all partake in government now - not be pushed around at the whim of a ruler.
Where sufficient popular consent assembles to challenge the government peacefully it will be listened to. (Good example, the German government under the Christian Democrats and the Liberals extended the operating lifetime of nuclear power plants after their election victory, only to shut down 5 or 7 immediately after the accident in Fukushima as a result of the peoples' opposition to nuclear power.)
With the technology of today, public participation is easier than ever - and instead of seeing the public as a thread (as one may believe in the case of some governments), we should make use of the technology to further constructive dialogue. (Which includes opposing ideas.)

As it turns out, research has also shown that crows are surprisingly clever, thus can lead to better answers and result than a minority of "experts".
A short piece on crowds can be found here (MIT): http://cci.mit.edu/publications/CCIwp2009-01.pdf

So to conclude:
Public participation was never easier than it has been - we should make use of it, to hopefully move to a better/fairer future for all, but also to make democracy what it is meant to be, the rule of the people, by popular consent.
William Stockton Added Aug 6, 2013 - 2:29pm
Thank you Detlev.
The crowd reference to decision making is, like you say, fascinating. An experiment was done using the "guess the number of marbles in the jar" game. 100 people guessed how many marbles were in the jar. At the end of the test, they took the average guess . . . call this the group consensus. It matched the number of marbles exactly.
People can (and have) repeated this experiment with similar results. Group consensus has been proven to make better decisions than single individuals.
Sorry, I dont have a reference to this experiment. This may be the best general reference I can produce on short order: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds
William Stockton Added Aug 6, 2013 - 7:13pm
>>>Freedom is the space between stimulus and response.
If you do not control the stimulus (which is all of the cases . . . I think) any action as a affect cannot be defined as "freedom".
William Stockton Added Aug 6, 2013 - 9:29pm
When you give your allegence to a society (by purpose or by birth), that society now owns you. You give up all your rights and freedom other than what that society allows you to retain. However, you get something in return . . . protection, commerce, shelter, identity, culture, etc. And some would argue that you get more in return than you would if you lived independant of any society.
The article tries to explain the progress of modern society from the medieval period (5th to 15th century after the collapse of the Roman Empire) and attempts to illustrate the impossible task in trying to live as a free person (allegency only to yourself) without allegence to any state.
William Stockton Added Aug 7, 2013 - 5:19am
I agree. But you are taking the argument I made out of context. Sure, I own a registered gun and will defend my property too. That is clearly not the same as what my article is describing. You do see that. Right?
By defending myself, I am excersizing a right that is guaranteed by the government through the constitution. I wouldnt have that right unless a few brilliant men in the 18th century understood that the best society, ruled by a government, granted and insured freedoms. But it didnt have to be that way. Those same men could have quite easilty formed another oppressive government granting very few rights to people. The point is, you were GIVEN those rights by the government. They are NOT automatic. They just seem automatic and natural because you dont know anything else.
I love my country and would die for it just like thousands before me who understood why America is special. Again, it could have very easily been something entirely different if not for a single belief that the government is not what is important. It is the people.
Mike Haluska Added Aug 7, 2013 - 2:56pm
There is a huge difference between "ownership" and voluntary cooperation. That is the major theme of the Constitution - the rights of the individual and his protection from majority (mob) rule. The most important legitimate function of our government is to prevent or stop one person from using force or cooercion against another. The real beauty of free trade is that people cooperate if it is the self interest of BOTH parties do so - otherwise no deal. For example, you are a grocer selling milk for $3.50/gal. I voluntarily purchase the milk for $3.50 because the milk has more value to me than the $3.50, likewise you value the $3.50 more than the gallon of milk - we both benefit without resorting to violence or one person benefitting at the expense of another. As long as the government doesn't interfere with competitors entering the grocery business, milk we be competitively priced with a satisfactory profit to the grocer and low price to the buyer.
William Stockton Added Aug 7, 2013 - 3:44pm
Hi Mike. I agree. A major role for a democratic government must be to protect fair trade. Im not sure how that relates to my article. But I agree with you.
William Stockton Added Aug 7, 2013 - 3:47pm
I wrote: "They just seem automatic and natural because you dont know anything else."

Sorry Steve. That sounded wrong. What I meant to say is that you probably have not lived under any other form of government than one which secures your freedom with the premise of inalienable rights. Therefore, you wouldnt have knowledge of having lived under anything different.
Mike Haluska Added Aug 7, 2013 - 3:56pm
Because all of the other freedoms (speech, assembly, press, etc.) are castrated if economic freedom is curtailed. What good is free speech if you are dependent on the government for your daily sustenance? Few people bite the hand that "feeds" them, and most hungry people gladly trade their freedom for food.
William Stockton Added Aug 7, 2013 - 4:02pm
Once again, I agree with you.
Of course taxes do curtail economic freedom. Right? But that is one form of allegence we pay to the government to protect us.
William Stockton Added Aug 8, 2013 - 12:54am
Steve. Thank you for your service.

I cant disagree with you nor your example of America's limited powers in all three branches of the government as well the military. I appreciate your example and find it very fascinating and encouraging as to the extent the government does protect us, as citizens, from itself.
I will stop there and allow your words to sink in. As well, let the readers judge for themselves.
Patrick Writes Added Aug 8, 2013 - 10:04am
Good article. In a society, no one is an island.
William Stockton Added Aug 8, 2013 - 3:04pm
>>>Can you change who owns you by moving physically?
Absolutely. You can denounce your citizenship and apply for citizenship with another country. You can also have dual citizenship.
Centuries long ago, you didnt have those options. If the governments long ago suspected you were non-allegiant, you would be killed for treason.
William Stockton Added Aug 11, 2013 - 1:28pm
Thankyou Patrick. Good sound-bite summary.
William Stockton Added Aug 13, 2013 - 1:20pm
If you or I had a choice in how much tax, then perhaps. There is nothing to prevent any government taxing 100%. However, that government would not last very long.
William Stockton Added Aug 30, 2013 - 11:47am
Hi Richard.
The piece was my attempt to be as logical and historically accurate as to the reason why we live under these massive governments as we do.  
The background to this article is the claims by Anti-Statists who believe we don't need any government at all.  Perhaps neither my logic, nor my historical summary was not compelling to you.
William Stockton Added Aug 30, 2013 - 11:21pm
Richard.  
Yes, quite reactionary.  It was a response to some very interesting dialogue here.  Does that make it any less valuable?
 
I recommend you read the anti-statists rhetoric and judge the merit in their arguments for yourself.  Plenty of discussion here.
Welcome to WB
 
William Stockton Added Aug 31, 2013 - 9:50am
Richard.  Sure there is anger here . . . and frustration.  The brain is such a complex and wonderful tool.  I can read any article that has elements of any emotion and glean a logical argument.  The one thing I detest, and which nearly erases all credibility is when writers here disrespect another (name-calling, character assassinations).  I have made that mistake a time or two and seem to get pulled into that debating style which the anti-statists mainly use to discredit.  The anti-statists don't argue from a platform of logic and resort to telling people they have a mental condition (sociopath).
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Sep 29, 2013 - 12:55am
William, you have almost created a perfect inverse of Natural Law as described by John Locke.  Rather than creating governments with the delegated responsibility to protect our natural rights, you argue that we become property of government in a surrender or be taken paradigm. 
 
This simple change drastically changes the relationship between governed and government as it moves government from servant to master.  While this is in line with the current attitude of government and its collectivist, authoritarian supporters, it is not the basis for a free and prosperous society. 
William Stockton Added Sep 29, 2013 - 8:12am
Hi JoF,
"William, you have almost created . . . "
I didn't create it.  This is history creating governments.
 
I agree with John Locke's theory of the perfect government.  But you must then ask why didnt Locke, a firm believer in personal freedom, take his arguments one step further and proclaim an end to all forms of government?  Simple.  He knew that government is a necessary part of society for the very same reasons history has drawn and which my article attempts to illustrate.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Sep 29, 2013 - 11:32am
William, I probably should have been more concise but that rarely happens after 12:00am.
 
Locke's ideas on Natural Law and formation of government are the basis of the American Revolution and the US Constitution, which itself is revolutionary in that it identifies power and rights as coming from the people rather than from government.
 
The reason I suggested that you described (rather than created as I stated before) a perfect inverse of Natural Law is that Locke arrived at the same conclusion but for different reasons.  Locke argued that we agree to form communities and governments for the purpose of mutual aid and defense.
 
This is the opposite of the enforced process that you describe, which has been the norm throughout history.  This, as much as anything else, is the basis for what is called American Exceptionalism.
William Stockton Added Sep 29, 2013 - 1:34pm
Hi JoF,
"Locke argued that we agree to form communities and governments for the purpose of mutual aid and defense."
That is exactly the reason people also formed tribes to protect themselves from the barbaric hordes.
 
I think you are leaving out an important choice people had made (including Locke) because you cannot have cake and eat it too.  There are some individual rights that must be forfeited when you become part of a tribe, nation, etc.  The argument then becomes twofold: 1) what are those individual rights sacrificed for the rights of the society?  2) How does this society protect itself from . . . itself (i.e. the governing body)?
 
Locke's paradigm shift was one of checks and balances.  Specifically, identifying those freedoms which must never be sacrificed for any society.  That was his attempt (successfully so) to solve problem 2.
Problem 1 is still in debate today as to the measure of individual freedom.
 
I can look at it from two ways: 1) The government granted me natural rights via the constitution & Bill of Rights (my point).


or
 
2) I have natural rights, but the government denied me some of those natural rights. (your point)
 
Whichever is the case in reality is somewhat moot as we arrive at the same place.  Right?
 
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Sep 29, 2013 - 4:55pm
William, I think of this as a disagreement among friends.
 
There is a fundamental difference in that natural rights cannot be nullified by government, whereas rights granted by government are really privileges that can be given or taken away.
 
The Constitution and Bill of Rights did not create these rights, they merely codified them for the protection of all against the potential tyranny of a strong Federal government.  Remember that what we call the Bill of Rights were amendments that some considered redundant; imagine how our nation would be today without them? 
 
Your example of mutual defense is a good example.  In the state of nature, I may not have the means to protect myself from all who threaten me.  For this reason, I choose to join with others in a community for our mutual protection, but I also delegate my right to use force unless I face imminent death or destruction.
 
This is done so that the community or government has a limited monopoly on the use of force.  In this way I have a reasonable expectation that force will not be used on me as I am prohibited from using it on others.  However, the right to self-defense remains mine if I face imminent threat of death or destruction.
William Stockton Added Sep 29, 2013 - 5:46pm
JoF:  Good reasoning.  We are not far apart.
William Stockton Added Oct 14, 2013 - 9:08am
Anonymous.
There had been (on this website) a plethora of arguing just on that topic.  Unfortunately the instigators of those arguments, the antistatists, have left and pulled all their articles and comments.
However, antistatism is gaining traction.  The Occupy movement is grounded on the same principles.
Autumn Cote Added Oct 15, 2013 - 5:35am
“Plethora”
 
As much as I’d like to say the views expressed on Writer Beat are a fair representation of the way in which people feel, I believe the “No Government” crowd is very small, even on Writer Beat. Adrian Dyer was clearly a very loud voice on Writer Beat and I believe your post was an excellent retort to many of his arguments. I wish he was still using Writer Beat but that seems to be the norm for the really opinionated people; for whatever reason they eventually go away and delete their posts.
 
I don’t think the Occupy Wall Street crowd would describe themselves as advocating “No Government”. They represented a lot of things and everyone struggled to apply a label or leader to the movement.
William Stockton Added Oct 19, 2013 - 11:33am
Hi David,
Great response and thanks for reading.
I agree that more modern 'democratic' governments have attempted to transition power back to the people.
I look at governments as the borders of a big box.  Within that box, we citizens are allowed to play and work at our bidding.  Some governments enclose very small boxes.  I would think, as you, that more democratic governments grant larger boxes (more contained freedom) . . . although still we are contained.
William Stockton Added Nov 15, 2013 - 12:51pm
Hi Diana and thank you for the comments.
Wouldn't it be great to live completely free and entirely at our own bidding?
Its a nice fantasy but has never existed...ever.
Two thoughts that jump in my mind like a pea on a hot shovel.
I understand Thoreau he is presenting an ideal which is problematic as a reality.  He wants a government that doesn't govern.  Really? Then what is it called then? Consultantment? An advisory board?
Lastly, there is a growing sector of USA population (and maybe the world) who want to be governed. This sector has been targeted and bought by a political party.  It is growing and self-sustaining as having been catered to by their master.  So again, Thoreau proposes a supposition which is not possible to attain, "...and when men and women are prepared for it...".
 
I should write an article regarding the inevitable battle between two diverging classes . . . entitled vs working.  The situation cannot possibly endure where one party is entitled to sit and bitch about the other party having too much money/opportunity while requiring the latter to pay for their effort/time to make such rants.
William Stockton Added Nov 15, 2013 - 5:37pm
Well Diana.  Its time for you to put an article up.  I would enjoy reading your thoughts.  Don't be shy!  (Although the commenting can be a bit unnerving at times)
Steve Borsher Added Nov 17, 2013 - 2:54pm
"You are and always will be someone else's property." I don't agree with that, but I do agree that most people will end up becoming part of someone's property.
 
If someone is selling freedom for $3.50, and I am willing to pay $3.50 for that freedom, then the freedom is worth $3.50, or more, to me.  Is there any society on Earth where you cannot buy your freedom for some price?  The trick then is to earn enough money to be free.  I did it; and if I did it, anyone can. It has more to do with how you manage your money and other resources, than with how much money you have. And if you make yourself valuable enough, society will beat a path to your door, and no one will own you; or pown you.
Mark David Added Oct 7, 2015 - 9:44pm
You are 100% wrong.
 
Here's an illustration:
 
I "own" a car.  I use it to drive to work every day. 
 
My neighbor also claims ownership and thus, we have endless conflict over who gets to use it. 
 
If you don't own yourself, and others have claim to own you, and this is true of all people, everyone will  be in endless conflict, generally violent, over who gets to tell who what to do. 
 
Thus, your idea is a recipe for the destruction of any society which would undertake to believe or implement such a horrendous abomination.  
William Stockton Added Oct 7, 2015 - 10:33pm
Mark, I think you missed the point here.  Or maybe I wasn't clear.  
You are owned by the government, the government entitles you to private ownership.  And the government enforces those rules for private ownership.  Nobody else enforces those rules?  Do you?
Tell you what.  Next time someone commits a crime against you, don't call the police.  Hire your own PI, find the criminal with your own resources.  Arrest him (or her).  Judge him and apply the correct sentence.  Then punish him.  All the while holding him captive in your....basement?  Garage?
You are owned.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2015 - 9:32am
"And the government enforces those rules for private ownership", but not for those in the government. The authorities do not follow their own rules, so there is not even a clear example from above of how to interpret the "rules". You are completely on your own in creating your little island, or peninsula, of freedom; and. as I said above, the more financial resources you have the better you will make out. Money talks; rules are for suckers.
William Stockton Added Oct 8, 2015 - 10:13am
Steve: The authorities do not follow their own rules
The design of American government is unique in human history.  The designers knew that unrestricted government would always evolve into corruption, class abuse, and power abuse.  The designers understood that the ultimate power, and ownership of the land, and all the inhabitants needed to be given to the government (federal).  No other way to organize a society and have a reasonable force against foreign aggressors.  If they didn't want this...why have congress?  The president?  The judicial system?
BUT...the checks and balances, the right to bear arms,  free speech, etc., was the power granted back to people.  Yet all this still doesn't mean we are not still owned.
 
Steve: ...the more financial resources you have the better you will make out.
The designers of American government understood this too and actually wanted this.  The more successful, the more say you will have in government, and the ability to influence others.  This brings the standards of society up.  Raises everyone's environment.  And, I would argue, is a major reason for the success of American society and the high standard of living.
 
Steve Borsher Added Oct 8, 2015 - 10:33am
William,
 
All that was true in the beginning, but now success does not mean the successful are intelligent. Wall Street works on simple formulae that anyone can follow; especially now with super computers. The computers have the intelligence from the original designers; the beneficiaries now are just lucky to be able to keep the computers running. I wrote elsewhere a few minutes ago, in response to an Ann Coulter piece, about how we have reached our "level of incompetence" in everything. When methodology from the past fails to work, as it did in the 2008 financial crash, no one knows what to do to fix it. The same has been said about the boosters used to get US to the moon: there is no one left that could build those again. The USA has become a country of lost art; and the "standards of society" have been on the wane for a few decades now.
William Stockton Added Oct 9, 2015 - 9:53am
Steve, The USA has become a country of lost art...we have reached our "level of incompetence" in everything
 
Both maybe a product of technology moving society so quickly, we cant keep up?  The sharing of information, globally, has dramatically changed society.  Still in ways that escape our awareness.  The rise in anxiety disorders is a canary in the coal mine.  People are freaking out.
So I see it as you do.  But I don't think tech has underwritten the US constitution......yet.
Steve Borsher Added Oct 9, 2015 - 10:31am
But the constitution will definitely have to catch up, as it should with many issues.  The Supremes keep cutting and pasting trying to make it fit situations that are well beyond what was known, or even dreamed, when it was written. We treat the US Constitution as some kind of Holy Grail; but mostly with lip service only.
 
As far as not keeping up, I have said for many years, since the boondoggle that was the Boston Big Dig, that humans can no longer maintain, or build, in many case, what humans can design. There is a huge empty hole where qualified technicians in all fields should be should be. Computers have accelerated the design phase, but have done nothing for upkeep. And politicians sell their constituents on these high price projects with no concern for the costs of sustaining them, which is why are roads and bridges are crumbling; even as we build bigger and more expensive ones.
 
And, yes, people are freaking out, and taking others with them into the abyss, because the politicians have also created programs, for health and opportunity, that were never properly funded. The politicians get the credit for creating those programs, but never have to suffer any accountability for their ultimate failure.

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